Archive for March, 2014


News that the former Princess Royal Elementary school site is to be sold off for private development signalled a sad ending for a public asset that was once a vital part of the South End community. If ever there was a school that could challenge the Fraser Institute’s perspective on educational success, Princess Royal Elementary was one.


Plenty of children excelled academically at Princess Royal, but for many more this school was fundamental in providing a safe and stable environment where they could learn much more than just the “three R’s.”

John McKay was part of an exceptional school team that had evolved and adapted over the years to meet the varied needs of the children who attended there. Beyond his teaching role, John was always helping out in the community and whenever I saw him, he was invariably surrounded by a crowd of devoted children, eyes wide and lit up, and clamouring for the kind of care and attention that he gave in such abundance.


Unfortunately the numbers just didn’t add up for Princess Royal. It was a small school with less than 70 students in 2004 and though this was part of what made the school so effective it was also what made it vulnerable to the economic equation of the day. As a community, we weren’t so well organized back then, and I wonder if we could have pushed to explore other options, in particular educational partnerships with the First Nation’s community, as a way of keeping the school open.


Though no longer a school, the building has continued to play an important part in the life of the neighbourhood. The Princess Royal Family Centre, funded by Island Health, provides a range of excellent services to the community, including the provision of meeting space for our association and use of the kitchen facilities for our annual Miners Heritage Picnic.


I bumped into John McKay at our last picnic. He was enjoying the day with his grand- children, connecting with past students and friends in the neighbourhood, and I’m sure rekindling a host of old memories from his days at Princess Royal Elementary.


Douglas Hardie is a member of the South End Community Association and can be reached at dhseca@gmail.com


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  1. Introductions
  2. Financial Report/Membership
  3. Samaritan House/City Right of Way
  4. Derelict Houses/RCMP Public Safety Report
  5. Tree Planting/Neighbourhood beautification
  6. Recycling facility – Old Victoria Rd.
  7. Traffic Lights
  8. Sidewalk petition

1. Introductions: Attendees named themselves. Two interest groups attended. Ronelle Bosman and Jack Anderson on behalf of Samaritan House, and Residents of Victoria Rd., regarding the proposed Recycling facility in that neighbourhood.

2. Financial Report/Membership: Attendees were reminded of the $5 voting membership fee and the ‘first Wednesday at 7pm’ General Meetings. Mention was made of the possible need to relocate the meeting site if the facility is sold, but our current location will be used for the time being.

Current Account Balances:

$4,871.73 – Picnic Account
$3,014.74 – General Account

Our Insurers have made changes to coverage. They will cover General Liability as usual, with the exception of the Miner’s Day Picnic Event. They have determined that separate coverage must be issued for this event at a cost of $259.00 which will be deducted from the Picnic Account. Total Insurance cost for the year will be $1,300.00 for General Liability plus $259.00 for the extra coverage, making a total of $1,559.00.

3. Samaritan House: Jack Anderson, Agent for the Island Crisis Society, and Ronelle Bosman presented an overview of the goals and operation of Samaritan House and the Therapeutic Housing Facility. They outlined their current application to the City for re-zoning of 2 adjacent properties as ‘Community Service’ to accommodate an expansion of their Facility to allow more housing/skills programming for troubled women.

  • They requested SECA approval for use of the currently vacant City Right of Way on the opposite side of the alley backing their facility to accommodate 3-4 parking spaces.
  • They indicated that they would improve the lot and assume responsibility for general upkeep of that area.
  • They requested input/suggestions regarding what the Community would like to see done at the site and indicated their desire to work in accordance with the Neighbourhood Plan.
  • In their discussions with the City about the site, the City gave permission with the Provisos that City access to water mains/sewer lines under the area be maintained, and that SECA approve.

In general discussion the following points were made:

  • Any plan for the lot should eliminate blackberries, wild shrubbery and hidden areas where drug activity and other dangers could occur.
  • Suggestions were made for a Sculpture or Sensory Garden, Fruit/Nut trees, and a minimal landscape for ease of upkeep.

Community suggestions are needed within 3-4 weeks to accomodate their time frame with the City. Chair, D. Hardie, indicated that the proposal would be placed on the Agenda of the next Executive Meeting. He requested that any present wishing to have suggestions considered inform him as soon as possible.

4. Derelict Houses: D. Hardie reported that he is still awaiting word from Randy Churchill of the City on demolition/remediation of derelict properties on Gillespie, Strickland and Haliburton. As Council’s attention was drawn to problem properties at the last Council meeting, he suggests that now may be an opportune time to make a representation to Council urging them to adopt clear policies regarding such properties. G. Fuller, Member of City Safety Board, outlined the difficulties surrounding issuance of demolition orders to property owners. Some derelict properties await resolution of insurance issues, others are for sale, with demolition as a condition of purchase. While Community Charter sections cover some situations, he indicated that legal issues are an impediment to action by the City.

RCMP – Derelict Properties/Public Safety: Constable Dave LaBerge spoke to the derelict property issue, informing that demolition of the old store on Haliburton is imminent unless the owner launches another appeal. Regarding other derelict properties, he indicated that the Community Charter limits action to properties that present a safety hazard to the public and that standards of maintenance are not specified in the Charter.

He also reported that the Landlords of the View Street and Finlayson nuisance properties were contacted and they are making changes.

He indicated that RCMP is aware of and is monitoring street activity around the 24hr. 7-11 site. They are also watching the 2 vacant properties on Haliburton adjacent to the Balmoral. He encourages the neighbourhood to file nuisance reports when appropriate.

5. Tree Planting: Ben & Michael Geselbracht of the not-for-profit Community Youth and Development Association made a presentation on the goals of the organization. They work with Youth to promote Community interaction, volunteerism, education in agricultural techniques and creating Urban Green Space/food production.

They cited their agricultural education, experience as growers and noted projects they have initiated and executed in Victoria. They suggested they might make a positive contribution to the Samaritan House lot project. D. Hardie restated SECAs’ commitment to the greening of the South End and invited them to attend the next Executive Meeting to discuss their possible contribution.

6. Recycling Centre/Traffic Lights: Valentina Cardinalli presented concerns of residents on Old Victoria Rd., regarding the proposed Recycling Facility in their neighbourhood.
Of concern:

  • Processing/Storage of Hazardous waste.
  • Vermin
  • No recycling of usable material to general public.
  • Increased truck and general traffic at already busy times.

The residents request SECA to write a Letter of Support against re-zoning and urging relocation of the project to an existing Industrial area. On behalf of SECA, D. Hardie points out that the facility doesn’t fall under our purview and we have no input outside of the Public Hearing on the issue.

Discussion addressed:

  • Traffic concerns. Installation of the promised Traffic Light at the intersection of Old Victoria Rd. Highway 1 and Haliburton St. is delayed due to an unresolved City/Provincial funding issue.
  • Frequency of accidents at the intersection is currently less than at other areas in the City and priority may be a concern.
  • Regarding funding the Traffic Light, a suggestion was made that the Church and Recycling Centre (if it is approved) could be levied for the cost, or a portion thereof, as they are major causes of the need for a light. SECA will continue to press the City for a resolution.
  • In regard to discussion around the Recycling Facility, it is pointed out that the proposed location falls under the Chase River Plan. The presentation made to us by Regional Recycling and the City representative at the last General Meeting was made for information-gathering/courtesy reasons. Boundary issues present on-going difficulty.

In response to questions concerning how the general public can be notified of SECAs’ initiatives and their progress, D. Hardie indicated that our Web Blog is updated regularly and can be accessed at will.

In response to the requests for written support by the Victoria Rd. Residents, D. Hardie indicated he could write a letter confirming that the residents had attended to express their concerns and that SECA had not approved or disapproved the project at the presentation.

7. Sidewalk – 700 Block Haliburton: Currently, the City will not address this issue until after 2017. Extra traffic caused by an approval for the Recycling Facility may cause them to reconsider. The issue will be discussed at the next Executive Meeting.


8. The status of the Robinson Gardens project was queried. No new information was available.

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Remember the colourful  S. End banners done last year?  Well, designs are being accepted now for banners at the painting location in the North Town Center mall.  Designs for this year’s theme, EVOLVE,  need to be submitted on a four by eight piece of medium weight card stock.  It is acceptable to  draw the design on regular copy paper and then glue  it to the card stock.  All designs have to be coloured and outlined with a fine tipped black marker.  No letters or symbols should be included since the design will be seen back and front and lettering etc will appear backwards from one direction.  There is a ten dollar fee as well.   Once submitted, the design is projected onto the banner which is made of a  white sheeting material, transferred by being drawn with pencil onto the fabric by the coordinator of the project, stretched onto a frame and ready to paint.  Brushes are supplied but painters may want to bring some favourite  brushes  of their own as well.  Banners have to be painted on both sides and then the design has to be outlined with a thin black line, also on both sides.  The large banners take at least three or four days to complete depending on the complexity of the design.  This is an energizing opportunity to work with painters from a variety of age groups and experience levels.  The focused atmosphere in the banner painting location is supportive, creative and joyful. For more information and to see the flyer on banners go to www.nanaimoartgallery.com


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The next General Meeting of the South End Community Association will be on Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 at Princess Royal School  at 7:00 p.m.

Agenda Items include:

 Derelict Houses


SECA Constitution


Tree Planting


Sidewalk Petition


Resident Response to proposed Recycling Centre


Traffic Light Concerns


 Just a reminder that membership fees for 2014 ($5.00 per person) are due.  Guests are always welcome at General Meetings.


 Hope to see you there.





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I first met Jill Stannard about 15 years ago when she volunteered to lead the annual Heritage Walk through the south end. The tour is a popular part of our annual Miners Heritage Picnic and each year at 11 am, Jill sets off into the neighbourhood with a large crowd in tow, pausing here and there to point out a significant home, tell an amusing historical anecdote and generally share her vast knowledge of one of Nanaimo’s oldest neighbourhoods.

Jill sits on the Nanaimo Heritage Commission, has long-standing involvement with the Nanaimo Community Archives and with the Nanaimo Historical Society, and last year was the proud recipient of the John Thomson Heritage Memorial Award, a fitting tribute and appreciation for all that she has given to this community.

Jill’s heritage walk is the very best kind of history lesson. To learn the facts of Nanaimo’s history is one thing, but to hear the stories from someone with such deep family roots in the neighbourhood, and whose love and pride for the place is so strong, is quite another.

It’s amazing to consider just what those early settlers were up against and the challenges they must have faced to build the city we have today. The theme of togetherness in the face of adversity has been a key element in helping the south end tackle some of our more contemporary social challenges.

Those of us who live on Gillespie Street won’t soon forget one of the old houses that had fallen into disrepair and into the drug trade. It was a chaotic time but it brought the residents together to deal with the problem and we are a tight-knit group of neighbours to this day.

No one was happier than Jill Stannard when that particular house was sold and eventually restored to its former glory by new owners. The house was once owned by Jill’s grandparents and is filled with happy memories from her childhood. I don’t think the house is actually on the heritage registry, but I’m pretty sure it gets a proud mention on the south end heritage walk.

Douglas Hardie is with the South End Community Association and can be reached at dhseca@gmail.com

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